“Fishes of Wisconsin” Challenge: “Shooting Docks” for Crappie

Fish Fry Day is when we put fish on our blog and the state of Wisconsin puts them on the menu. This week we continue our “Fishes of Wisconsin” journey. 8 down, only 175 to go! 
This week’s species is the delectable crappie, a member of the sunfish (Centrarchidae) family with two species (white and black) representing its genus (Pomoxis). 
Crappie are a beloved sport fish. Seriously. The fish has not one, not two, but three entire websites dedicated to it, is the subject of countless YouTube tutorials, and has thousands upon thousands of loyal followers on Twitter.
In Wisconsin, it may rank behind bluegill and perch as a preferred panfish but in the lakes (okay, reservoirs) or more southern states, it’s often the most sought after table fish.

A mess of black crappie from Lake Mendota. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer
A mess of black crappie from Lake Mendota. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer

One reason for crappie’s popularity may be that they eat just about anything, from plankton, to aquatic invertebrates, to minnows, to their own predators (well, smaller, younger walleye, pike and muskies, at least!). This means that all sorts of lures and bait can catch a crappie, as long as light tackle is used – they’re often called “papermouths” because of the tender membrane that can easily lose a hook.
Both species of crappie are widely distributed, native to drainages throughout the entire eastern half of the U.S. and introduced just about everywhere else – which may also explain their popularity with anglers.
In the pursuit of other exciting facts about this week’s “FIsh of Wisconsin,” I instead stumbled down a YouTube rabbit hole as I became enthralled by a fishing technique I’d never before encountered. It’s called “shooting docks” and it looks like a lot of fun, as long as you keep your fingers out of the way of the hook! To quote our trusty guide from the video below – “If you can get it under there, you’re doin’ somethin’ – ooh whee!”